Craigslisted MCM Coffee Table

As I may have mentioned in the past, Dan and I are big craigslisters. In fact, last year, we made about fourteen pickups to furnish the new place. You can find some really cool stuff, and we’ve met some quite interesting people too.

Dan made our latest find – a delightful mid-century modern birch colored coffee table.

During pick up, he went inside the seller’s condo while I waited in the car. He said I would have been in MCM heaven in there. I’m so sad to have missed it.

In any case, we brought it home, and put it in our living room. It was just the right size for the space.

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We found this piece for a great deal. It’s a real Harvey Probber, who was a big furniture designer back in the day. The reason we got it for such a reasonable price was that the table had some significant damage, including chips in the veneer, and water damage from an overwatered orchid left on the table for too long.

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Now comes decision time. Should we refinish it ourselves? Hand it over to a professional due to its potential worth? Do we paint some of it? All of it?

I looked around to see if anyone posted any great tutorials to follow. I did find some really helpful guides on repairing veneer, but I think if we plan to refinish the table by stripping, sanding, and staining, we would be better off going to someone who actually knows what they are doing.

There was one interesting idea that I had seen before, and came across again as part of my research. We could paint only part of the table, leaving the rest it’s natural color. Perhaps, something like this from The Weathered Door, with the tops and sides painted but with the drawers and legs remaining their original color.

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With all those big plans in mind, our usual M.O. is to live with the piece for a while, and see how we like it. Right now, I like the light color it brings to the room. The floors and other side tables in the space are dark, so the contrasting light wood works well. I think I’m leaning a bit toward the painting option right now, especially if the paint is a bright, shiny lacquer.

I’m sure I’ll share once the decision is made and executed.


No Board, Just Batten

Dan and I found ourselves with a free weekend. What did we do? Put up board and batten in the hallway, of course.

I’d been wanting to do this for a while, and now that it’s up, and wasn’t terribly difficult, I’m sure we’ll be doing this in our upstairs hallway soon.

As I’ve shared in an earlier post, here’s what the hallway looked like before we got started. (Please excuse the bad photos – camera malfunction that I didn’t notice until it was too late!).

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Here’s the after.

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It looks so much better!

As our main reference, we used the board and batten tutorial from Young House Love. The main parts of the tutorial that we followed was painting the existing wall white instead of attaching boards to the wall (hence, no actual “board” being installed), and using thin lattice boards for the batten. In other aspects of the work, we did deviate from their directions quite a bit.

To start, we measured thirty-six inches from the floor and set our painter’s tape. We used a laser level, which was very, very handy if you can get your hands on one.

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The next steps were painting the wall and making the wood cuts. Unsurprisingly, I painted while Dan cut. We already had some paint leftover from painting our baseboards, so that cut out an additional expense. All we had was gloss paint, so we’ll see how we like it over time. We thought it would be good to be able to wipe off scuffs, since it’s easier to do so with gloss paint. Plus, the baseboards were already painted in gloss, so we thought it should all match. I’ll let you know if two months in, we re-paint everything in satin.

We used the existing baseboards as the bottom part of our board and batten, so all we had to buy was lattice for the downward strips and top rail for, you guessed it, the top rail. Forty-two feet of lattice (seven six foot boards) and three pieces of top rail did the trick (and we had leftovers of each).

Once the paint dried, it came time to attach the boards to the wall. We used both Liquid Nails and a nail gun on each piece of wood. We played around with spacing, and since we wanted our board and batten to look more square-like than rectangular, we space our lattice pieces every thirty-one inches.

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It then came time to paint again. This was the second coat on the walls, but the first on the boards. We let everything dry, then applied one last coat.

After removing the painter’s tape, we took stock of any little cracks and crevices that needed caulk. Dan got out his caulk gun and filled in all the small spaces. Finally, he got out a bit more paint and did all final touch ups.

We learned a few things along the way. For starters, we wouldn’t have put the painter’s tape up first. One area of the tape bowed up a bit, so some of the white paint got above the top rail. Instead, we would attach the top rail first, then put painter’s tape above it.

We also think we would caulk between the second and third coats of paint. While it looks fine, it might have been a little easier to give the whole area a fresh coat of paint, rather than go back and do small touch ups. You live, you learn. We’ll be sure to make the proper adjustments when we board and batten the upstairs.

The space still isn’t done. I’d love to get some art up on the long hallway, and perhaps I can find a long colorful runner too. But, for about $75, this is a fairly easy upgrade that is well worth the time and money.

Living Room Facelift

By my count, I’ve shared the updates for our entryway, master bedroom, guest bedroom, half bath, and master bath. It’s about time that I should share our new living room. But first, let’s see where we started with the space.

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This room had some challenges – mostly the dusty, faded old drapes, badly stained carpet, and, in case you didn’t notice them, the two HUGE mirrors attached to the wall. You know how they’re mounted? Tar. No joke. Tar-like glue that is next to impossible to remove.

Given how quickly we needed to work on the rooms, I don’t have any step by step photos or a tutorial on how to get those mirrors down. Let’s just say it involved razor wire and was not a pleasant process.

As for the rest of the room, we ripped the carpet up, and like elsewhere in the house, we had the hardwood underneath refinished with Jacobean Minwax stain. The curtains came down easily, and we just patched and painted over where the hardware was.

Here’s the work in progress (apologies, the picture is a few months out of date).

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The couch, chair and a half, coffee table, and end tables are all transplants from our old apartment. The curved blue velvet chair, rug, and arc lamp are new to us – craigslist finds.

One of my favorite parts of this room is the gallery wall above the couch. Every piece of art Dan hung has a meaning to us. Why buy generic, mass produced art when you can hang family portraits or snapshots from a favorite vacation?

The room has changed a bit since we took this snapshot (we fixed the spacing of the rug and centered it in the room), and we still have a few things to do (add a sidebar to the empty space on the right side of the room and get some non-matching tables). I keep telling myself that decorating a process, and a room won’t be done in a day, a weekend, or maybe even a month. Though it’s nowhere near finished, for now, it’s a welcoming space that I enjoy, and works  great for entertaining – all the things a living room should be.

The $125 Bathroom Makeover

Since they’ve been few and far between, I thought I’d start the year off with a remodel post. You know, just for fun.

During our 1.5 year search for  a house, we had a list of “musts” and a list of “wants.” A master bathroom did not appear on either list – we thought it was out of our price range. When we bought our home, getting a master bathroom was a lovely bonus. However, it left a lot to be desired. Here’s how it looked on inspection day:



Green and gold wallpaper. Gold lantern light fixture. Gold edge mirror. Olive green shower tiles. Goldenrod floor tiles. Beige and blue swirled marble countertop. Weird green stained (originally gold) vanity hardware.

On move in day, the hairspray, lipsticks, and knickknacks were all gone, but the sad bathroom remained.


As dark and rough looking as the bathroom was, everything worked fine – the shower, the sink, the toilet, the tub. I couldn’t justify ripping everything out at this point. So, we removed all the wallpaper, painted the walls a light cream color, and hung a shower curtain (keeping the curtain closed as much as possible). It was blah, but it was an improvement.


It stayed this boring during what I like to refer to as “Phase I.” Eventually, Phase I had to go. I was ready for, and needed, a change.

Here’s how the bathroom looks now. I call it “Phase II.”


It looks like a whole new room!

I’ve read that with renovations, people re-do the less public places in their house (upstairs baths, bedrooms, offices) dead last. I would argue that especially for bedrooms and baths, they should be done first. I can’t tell you how nice it feels to go into that bathroom once we made the mostly-paint updates. It feels restful, even spa-like, which is exactly what I wanted.

Here’s what I did.

Though you can’t see it in the above photo, I found a chrome 3 light bath fixture from Pottery Barn on craigslist for $20. It isn’t available for sale now, so it’s likely a few seasons old, but who cares? Dan had no trouble swapping the lights out.

Using just a coat of paint and some leftover knobs from another project, I was able to transform the shutter vanity. I looked around to get inspiration, and when I saw a grey shutter vanity at Home Depot for $900, I knew I could make something similar out of the one I had. I gathered some paint samples and ended up using Dark Granite by Behr (from Home Depot) for the vanity color. I decided a more neutral grey would work well for the walls. Using the same paint swatch to be sure the greys were in the same family, I picked the color Sparrow. It only took a quart for the vanity and a gallon for the walls. The vanity shutters were taken off, sanded, and painted on the basement floor, which was an extremely time-consuming process to avoid drips through the shutter slats. Then, using some leftover spray paint we had on hand, we painted the mirror frame in glossy white, which just looked cleaner in the space.

The hardest part of the bath’s cosmetic facelift were the tiles and countertop. I had heard you could paint tiles, so after some research, we bought Rust-O-Leum’s Tub and Tile Kit. Long story short, we hated the product, and I would not recommend it due to the painting procedure, smell, and lack of coverage as detailed on the package, but I do like the way the tiles and countertop look now. I like that the lantern shape of the tiles is still visible, which plays into the shower curtain pattern. The countertop looks great in a kind of shiny white, almost with the look of a solid quartz. The jury’s still out on durability, as it just hasn’t been long enough to see if the paint will hold up over time.

The final pieces I added to the space were the artwork and accessories. The frame was a clearance find at Homegoods for $5 and the image is Lake Michigan on a particularly wavy day, clipped from Chicago magazine I had. I “shopped my house” and found a frame, candle, and countertop mirror that I thought would look nice in this mini-makeover.

Once all the paint dried and I stepped back from the project, I looked around and realized this terribly ugly and dated bathroom was now one of my favorite spaces in the house. Never underestimate the power of a new coat (or two, or three) of paint.

So for a grand total:

$15 for the vanity paint (quart)

$30 for the wall paint (gallon)

$0 for the mirror frame spray paint (we had it)

$30 for the Rustoleum Tub and Tile Kit (x2)

$15 for the West Elm shower curtain (on clearance)

$5 for the silver frame (free art from magazine)

$0 for towels, bathmat, accessories (we had them)

= $125

I’d say the improvement was completely worth it. Even though we know a complete remodel will eventually happen (“Phase III,” of course) and will include the tiles, tub, vanity, and mirror being demolished and replaced, Phase II doesn’t feel like an in-between phase, like Phase I did. I’m perfectly happy to keep the bathroom the way it is now for years to come.



Hello, 2015!

2015? 2015. Yep, it’s 2015, for like a week now.

A new year rolls around, and it feels like a fresh start. Resolutions. Organization. New calendars/planners. Everyone has grand plans. With that in mind, I saw this printable, and thought it summed up a new year perfectly:


I think this year is especially a new beginning for me, as I will be heading down a new career path, starting a new job shortly. If you know me, you know that I despise any type of change and find much comfort in the familiar. I thought I’d have anxiety at starting somewhere new, but I don’t. The move just feels right.

With that one big change about to happen, I didn’t look to make other new year resolutions. In fact, when I did sit down to think about anything I’d like to do differently, I realized there isn’t a lot about the way things are right now that I’d want to change. I see my friends and family often, the house is usually reasonably clean,  I’m fairly good about my work out routine, and I’ve actually joined a successful book club (successful in that members actually read the book and we meet on a regular basis). This might be the most put together I’ve been in a while!

If I had to pick something to work on, I think it would be to take more photos, especially with family. Sure it’s sometimes odd to be the one to tell everyone to get together for a quick pic, but I read somewhere that you never regret taking the shot – you regret not having it years down the road. Well, I’ll give it a try. Maybe years from now, I’ll thank my younger self.

So, other than lugging the DSLR and a tripod to a few extra get-togethers, I guess my resolution is to keep heading down the path I’m on right now. And that’s A-OK with me. I don’t like change anyways.